Ellen Richardson’s statement for May 8, 2003 rally for Education Not Incarceration

On May 8th, 2003, teachers, students, parents and concerned community members from across California rallied at the state capitol to advocate for education funding over prison spending. This statement from Ellen Richardson, a prisoner incarcerated at VSPW, was included in various activities at the rally.

State Money for Schools Not Prisons
My name is Ellen Richardson, I am currently incarcerated at Valley State Prison for Women. I am a mother and a grandmother. Like many other mothers and grandmothers in this prison, we are very upset over the budget cuts planned for the schools in this state. Please know that none of us here want our children or grandchildren sitting in a classroom with 40 other students or caring, compassionate and pride full teachers forced to leave the very classrooms our family members sit eager to learn.
It is so difficult for our voices inside the prison to be heard. I felt it imperative to tell you how we feel and to let you know that you are all in our prayers. We are not bad people, we are people who made bad voices, so we can recognize a bad choice when we see on. Taking money from our schools and our children is more of a bad choice than ones most of us made to get ourselves into prison.
I would presume that most tax payers in this state do not realize that the tax dollars allocated in the budget for prisons do not go to the inmate population in the form of programs and classes to stop the revolving door. The majority of your hard earned tax dollars goes for the very salaries and benefits of employees working for the prison system that donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the governor.
I do not want the general public to think that the tax dollars being wrongly taken away from our children are being used to put swimming pools and tennis courts in the prisons. In fact the few budget cuts for the prison system are for the very programs that can help women stay out of the system and go home. Domestic violence, self esteem, and anger management classes are already non-existent. Programs to keep mothers and children connected will no longer be available. The money allocated to prisons will not even fix the already broken medical departments. Ask yourselves, where in the prison system is this money going?
Politics is hard to manage, bad politics is hard to overcome and corrupt politics is criminal. So please know that the mothers and grandmothers in this prison would gladly give up what little we receive to insure the education of our children and grandchildren.
Ellen Kathleen Richardson, W65805
Valley State Prison for Women/C3-01-03L
P.O. Box 92
Chowchilla, CA 93610-0092